HON. S. O. B. Agunbiade, an activist and a lawyer is the new Majority Leader of Lagos House of Assembly. The lawmaker, who represents Ikorodu Constituency I, in the Assembly, was the first to step down amongst those jostling for the Speakership of the House of Assembly.
In the end, he was nominated the Majority Leader and unanimously accepted by his colleagues. In this interview he told ENCOMIUM Weekly how he emerged the Majority Leader and what he intends to do in office.
We want to start by congratulating you on your election as the Majority Leader of Lagos House of Assembly.
Thank you very much.
How does it make you feel?
It makes me feel good because part of my campaign in my constituency is that the more years you spend in the House of Assembly, the more well positioned you are in ranking and in performance. I told them that sending me back to the House will give Ikorodu Constituency I, a leverage to compete favourably with my colleagues from other constituencies for the principalship office of the House which they have been yearning for,
I further told them that it would be a disservice to send a new comer to the House. That means that the new comer will start to learn all over again, why don’t we appropriate the opportunity we have? So, I feel good that the position vindicated my advocacy, justify my representation to my people. I am sure that people now see that I have not misled them into giving me their mandate for the third term.
I don’t really want to go into the details of what happened before the principal offices positions were settled. But I will like to say that, a party man must always behave like a party man. A party man must not put his ambition above the party agenda or directives. A party man who is Godly must also know that it is only God that grants you what you desire. When you aspire for something and you discover that peace has to be made, you have to listen to wise counsel, you have to objectively analyse the circumstance and you should be pragmatic enough to study where the pendulum is likely to swing and be able to tell yourself some basic truth. Let it be said that when the House of Assembly needed leadership, I offered myself in this position. Though, I realized the seemingly futility of the aspiration for Speakership because the governor is from the same senatorial district that I am. I actually anticipated it but let it be said that I offered myself. With counseling here and there, I stepped down and I said I wanted the deputy speakership. Again, very reasonable argument came against that aspiration. Then I handed off waiting for whatever that comes. My colleagues and with inputs by some leaders of the party in the Assembly who know all of us very well came up with the idea of Majority Leader and it was accepted by my colleagues.
Today, I thank God that I have the opportunity to participate in the leadership cadre of the House of Assembly as Majority Leader.
Will you say you are lucky that out of seven of you that contested for the Speakership, you are one of the three that ended up being given a principal office position?
Everybody is lucky because when you aspire for something and you get it, you are lucky. If you aspire for something and you did not get it too, you are lucky too because you do not know why God did not grant it for you. At times it could be blessing in disguise.
I believe in predestination, that is why when I struggle for something and I did not get it, I know it is not meant for me. What is meant for me will certainly come to me. That is my Islamic training. Don’t always force yourself on history. I have come to realize that no individual that can force himself on history. If history is not prepared for you and you force yourself on history, history has a way of dumping you in the pit of regret, and you may regret ever making effort at getting what you get.
At times you are not prepared for history but history has a way of dragging you along and you will become what you never anticipated to become. We have example of Babatunde Raji Fashola (SAN) and Goodluck Ebele Jonathan. These are people that were not prepared for history but history dragged them along.
There are also examples of people who were so desperate to make history and history shocked them. That is the negative side, so, don’t let us mention names.
Will you then say you are lucky to have been the only person that has contested for the Ikorodu Constituency I seat three times and won?
I will say providence is on my side. I will say luck is on my side too. I am also privileged and I realized that my people have been so nice to me. The party (APC) leaders in Ikorodu have been nice to me. Because if they had not wanted me, they know how they would have stopped me. But that they allowed me to be voted for at the primaries shows their magnanimity. And for my people to continue to trust me, is something that has put on me, a serious moral question, for which I am at the back of mind the saying that to whom much is given, much is expected.
What will you say prepared you for this your new position as Majority Leader?
I will say that my colleagues know what they have seen in me to have made them preferred me as the person that can occupy this seat. I appreciate them, I thank them and I promise I won’t let them down. I will continue to put in my all to ensure that they don’t regret giving me this support of becoming the Majority Leader of Lagos House of Assembly.
What are you bringing on to the table as the Majority Leader?
Everything that makes me what I am and everything that makes my colleagues to prefer me. I will put in my best.
What are the new things that you are likely to introduce as the Majority Leader?
As events unfold, the new things will definitely come up. By the grace of God, I want to do less of talking, much of action. At the end of the first year of the four years, I want to sit back and ask myself, what new things am I introducing. Definitely, there are new things to be introduced. I know that at the end of the first year one or two things would have been added to the House of Assembly efforts. I know I will share in the praise and commendation as one of those people that have done that.
I want to be sure that when they say the House of Assembly has done this or that, deep in my mind and that of my colleagues they will say oh, SOB actually contributed or initiated it as a leader of the House. Whatever we do, we must all take the glory and not an individual glory. That is, I don’t want to be individualistic. I want to be collective both in the parliament and among the principal officers.
What is your assessment of the new leadership of the House?
The composition of the leadership is encouraging. The new Speaker, Rt. Hon. Mudashiru Obasa has been around for 12 years. He has held different positions and responsibilities. He was a member and later the Chairman of Budget and Economic Planning Committee of the House. A position that afforded him the opportunity to have deep insight about the workings of the government. He also has a good working relationship with virtually all the returning honourable members and has endeared himself to the new honourable members. Certainly, he is going to carry everybody along. He, like many of us was part of the success story of the 7th Assembly and our target is not only to march these achievements but also to surpass them. All of us in the leadership of the Assembly are men of honour and integrity who will not betray the confidence imposed in us by our colleagues. We will surely not disappoint them.
– TOLANI ABATTI